When you search for a particular page, blog, or attachment on Confluence, do you ever end up with search results that are not relevant to your queries? If so, then you’re not alone.
Confluence search results miss the mark, especially if your Confluence content is extensive. Several questions regarding the search functionality are often found on the Atlassian Community platform.
For example, one user can’t seem to get Confluence to produce accurate results for a specific word search.
If you want certain content to show up at the top when you search for a certain keyword, you might relate to this user who wishes to affect the search results.
Additionally, when an Atlassian Product Manager for Search asked for users’ feedback on how they can improve the search function, an answer elaborating on the need for features like “marking important pages” and “giving user feedback” received the most ‘likes’:
Having a vast wiki should never hinder the discoverability of your content or reduce the reliability of your search results. As an admin, you should be able to quickly deliver accurate and precise Confluence results. After all, they are key to improving the user experience.
However, the thing with search queries is, they rely on metadata – which Confluence seems to lack. So, if you want to improve your search results, you need metadata management. But before that, you need to understand the factors affecting Confluence search results as well as the platform’s limitations.
Continue reading for three key tips that will improve your Confluence search results.
Tip #1: Understand the Factors Affecting Confluence Search Results
In Confluence, items that appear in the search results have higher scores than others, but what attributes determine the scores in the first place?
According to Confluence Knowledge Base, while all items have the same chance of appearing in the search results, document age, title, content and popularity give each item different weights. Understanding these four factors is an essential first step.
- Document Age
Newer documents score higher than older documents. However, it doesn’t mean that newer documents will appear first; it’s just that there is a difference in their weightage.
Confluence will look at the number of words in a title (excluding minor words like “the,” “a,” “and,” etc), and will check how many times a keyword appears in the title.
Similar to mechanics like title, Confluence will look at the number of words within a content page and check how frequently the keywords appear in the content.
Pages with more incoming links are considered more popular and, thus, will be ranked higher than other pages that share similar content.
So, if you’re wondering why certain items rank higher or why some search results are not relevant to your keyword queries, these factors may be in play.
Apart from the scoring system, Atlassian has clarified that there is no fixed search algorithm for Confluence as it changes between releases. Now that you’ve understood how your search results are affected, your next step would be identifying Confluence limitations.
Tip #2: Identify Confluence Limitations
The standard Confluence environment is pretty limited when it comes to the search function. One of its biggest limitations is the lack of metadata. Metadata is key to finding and working with your Confluence content – this is even more vital when your wiki is vast. Without metadata, users will have a hard time sorting and locating specific items.
To make up for it, Confluence has encouraged users to label content. Using labels is the most that you can do to improve the “searchability” of content. In other words, labels are the closest thing to metadata that you’re going to get – but they’re still unstructured data and managing them will take a bit more work.
You need to create your own list of labels as well as your own best practices according to the needs of you and your team. This can be time-consuming when you’re dealing with a lot of content. Manual entries of labels are not that helpful either, as they are error-prone can end up drowning content even more.
So, the best solution is to look into effective metadata management tools like Metadata for Confluence. Imagine being able to structure your content with predefined metadata fields that can help pull together key information from your pages. You will end up having better matches for your keyword search! This brings us to the final tip…
Tip #3: Manage Metadata to Improve Confluence Search Results
According to Forbes, effective metadata management is the key to better data organization and search. Structured metadata makes it possible for users to find institutional data, whatever that data may be, within an organization’s network.
With a vast Confluence, users may not be aware of what content they can access; let alone where it is located and how to accurately find it. As an admin, you can use Metadata for Confluence to deliver the right results to users’ search queries in three ways:
Improve Categorization of Confluence Content
Information in Confluence can be categorized in a way that facilitates effective search queries, which translates to more accurate search results. How? With predefined metadata fields.
Let’s say your Confluence houses a variety of product pages. With metadata fields like product owners, upcoming releases, and technology populated across the pages, users like your marketing team can quickly find the right product page in the search results when they key in the relevant keyword.
Remove Label Typos
By leveraging the app, you can make global metadata changes to remove typos from a lot of content, quickly and effectively. That way, search queries will lead to more accurate results.
Some additional tips when editing your label metadata:
- Labels are not case sensitive so you don’t have to worry about consistency in capitalization when editing
- Nevertheless, it’s a good practice to have a consistent naming convention for your labels
- You can use underscores or hyphens for multiple-word labels
Add Context to Content
To do this successfully, admins like yourself need to be aware of users’ search intent. Sometimes, they know what data they’re looking for, but they might not use precise keywords when searching. Nevertheless, the right data need to appear in the results.
The best way to tackle this is to structure the data with metadata that are more relevant to users’ search intent. For example, if a page is a “how-to content to use a product,” then the admin can add the metadata fields like software requirement, data center compatibility, and contact person to help with the search results.
Metadata Is the Answer to Your Search
It’s easy to disregard metadata when you’re working in an environment that doesn’t offer room for comprehensive metadata management. But it doesn’t mean that you have to settle for unstructured metadata and compromise your search results.
When you improve your search results, you will not only enhance the user experience, but you will also have greater control over your content and be more aware of what data you have collected. There’s so much you can do when you manage your metadata, so take action now if you don’t want to miss out.
To know more about Confluence metadata management, check out our eBook, Making Magic with Metadata, An Essential Spell Book for Every Confluence Wizard.